Every year near the end of the regular season, the Crew convenes at LC Pavilion for the team awards ceremony followed by a casino night that allows fans to gamble alongside their heroes. That’s going down Tuesday between two must-win games that close out the schedule — at DC this Saturday and home versus Toronto next Sunday.
Here’s how I think the awards should go (not necessarily how they will go).
Most Valuable Player: Considering his impact upon arrival, it would be surprising not to see Federico Higuain named MVP. But if we’re going with players who were around most of the season, it has to be the remarkably steady Eddie Gaven.
Goal of the Year: Higuain’s back-to-back free kick goals against New England were sick, as was Justin Meram’s lofting chip at San Jose and Emilio Renteria’s soaring stoppage-time header against Montreal. But the coolest tally of the year was Sebastian Miranda’s 20-yard header against FC Dallas. It happened right before my eyes, and I’ve never seen anything like it.
Breakout Performance: If this award can be given to a player who wasn’t in MLS last year, it has to go to Jairo Arrieta, who is tied for the team lead in goals despite only playing half the season.
Defender of the Year: After existing in William Hesmer’s shadow for years, Andy Gruenebaum made the most of his chance to start in goal. He was snubbed for the All Star team, so don’t snub him here.
Comeback Player of the Year: Josh Williams was suspended 10 games last season because he used a banned over-the-counter supplement, but he bounced back this season to be a rock on the Crew backline as well as a consistent contributor to the offense.
Kirk Urso Heart Award: The players will decide this new award in honor of Urso, the rookie midfielder who died tragically due to a heart defect earlier this season. It’s supposed to go to someone who exemplifies his work ethic, so I’d say Gaven is a great fit.
Jim Nelson Fan of the Year: I might be biased because he’s a friend of mine, but I’d pick Blake Compton, who stepped aside as the master administrator behind Hudson Street Hooligans this year after helping to shape the culture of the Nordecke.
Dispatch file photo by Brooke LaValley
Josh Williams deserves consideration for Comeback Player of the Year.